Grieving for Gluten (And Other Things)…

When you find out you have an allergy, autoimmune reaction, etc. to a certain food or certain compound in a given food, it’s quite saddening to say the least. Even if you do know it’s for the best, it can really fucking suck.

For me, some days are better than others. Most of the time, I can deal with it just fine. I’ve found gluten-free replacements for all of my favorite foods – Italian, Asian, sushi, pizza, you name it! I definitely do not feel at all deprived on the food spectrum. I’ve found ways to deal with it (as well as my reactions to dairy, oats, amarinth and corn) and still eat all my favorites, using various gluten/grain free breads, pastas, etc.; non-dairy cheeses and ice creams, you name it. In fact, I’d say I eat better now and I enjoy eating and cooking more than I ever have in the past.

Alas, I still find myself sometimes longing for a Bratzel from Flying Saucer (a cheese/beer brat topped giant soft pretzel), a delicious donut, a wood-fired Lucia pizza from Vagabond in my old hometown of Abilene, and above all else, a good stout beer – the last of which still aches my heart that I can’t have anymore. There have been a few times I’ve wanted one so bad I’ve fucking cried.

Last week was a prime example, and I goddamn near caved and cheated on the gluten-free thing. Due to some unfortunate events last week (which were a result of my own doing and I’ll own that – though I don’t want to discuss details), I felt so bad the only thing I wanted was a Bratzel and imperial stout, and I was “this” close to going over to Flying Saucer and getting just that. Luckily, something came up which prevented me from doing that and saved me what could have been days straight of intense pain and suffering (I guess everything does happen for a reason).

The only gluten-free beer I’ve found around here is Redbridge by Anheuser-Busch and it’s no imperial stout. Whether or not you could even brew a gluten-free beer to have the thickness of imperial stout is another question altogether – part of where it gets its thickness is from the gluten itself.

Now, some Google search results have shown some true gluten-free imperial stouts. Alas, most of them are brewed on the west coast, and all of the ones I’ve found contain oats, which lo and behold I also react to. I can’t have those either!!! EFF. EM. ELL.

I guess I should consider myself lucky because I’ve got so much great Texas hill country wine to choose from around here to fill that void, but damn, wine just ain’t the same. I love wine, don’t get me wrong, and I would often choose it over beer back in my beer drinking days, but when you crave a beer it’s just a poor substitute.

My old pipe band is having a Burns Supper in a couple of weeks. I can guarantee you nothing there will be Celiac-safe because of the nature of Scottish cuisine. I can’t even enjoy that anymore. At times it’s just too much to handle.

Alas, I know it’s for the best if I stick to it, and in due time I’ll miss these things less. Taking it one day at a time is all I can do, and I guess I’ll just trudge forward, even if a beer or Bratzel is tempting at times.

I’ll be fine, and I can triumph over my cravings, and I will enjoy better health for not giving in. A little emotional pain now is worth not having a lot more of it later (as physical and emotional pain usually go hand in hand).

Neurotypical For A Day

Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s most or all of us on the autism spectrum, but do you ever wonder what it’s like to be neurotypical? If you could choose to experience life as a neurotypical for one day (with the guarantee you could revert to your previous state in 24 hours’ time), would you take that opportunity?

By extension, would you continue to exist as neurotypical if you found it easier/more palatable to do so? Or would you choose to revert to your previous autism-afflicted state despite the difficulties that come with that?

While I’m still on the fence if I would accept a cure should one become available (note: I don’t think one will now nor ever), it would be interesting just to see what it’s like to be “normal” as it were. To be able to flow with the way the world is designed. To be the one catered to instead of ostracized.

I can’t be the only one who wonders.

Is It Detox?

OK, let me preface this post by saying I’ve felt like T-total shit all week. It kind of started on Monday but took hold Tuesday into Wednesday when I’ve felt just totally gnarly. At first I thought I had contracted another upper respiratory and it was the precursor, but when I didn’t develop any upper respiratory symptoms (nor any GI symptoms for that matter!) I was at a loss.

I consulted with Laina as I always do in regards to these matters, and she suggested my body might have entered into detox mode. I guess it would fit with a lot of what I’ve noticed – fever/chills, heavy/skunky perspiration (we’re talking soak the bed at night heavy and man does it stink), pissing like a racehorse, “power shits,” a headache, you name it.

Yeah, not exactly pleasant but I guess necessary. I was feeling so icky last night that Laina out of the kindness of her heart kept me overnight at her place for medical observation, and she went the extra mile to tend to the little one while I was in only a partially conscious state.

After throwing back some water this morning, some trace minerals and having a good shower, I’m starting to feel somewhat normal again. I’m still not 100% but I’m much better than I was – maybe 80%-ish or so.

The question is what triggered all this? I’ve not started any supplements or anything to trigger a detox, but simple lifestyle changes might have brought it on – going gluten-free/dairy free (the two big food reactions I have), increasing fiber intake, healthier food choices in general, reducing consumption of alcohol, tobacco and caffeiene. If that’s enough to start the detox process, then I guess so be it.

Lord knows I’ve been in a decades-long need of a good detox. I was born with a heavy toxic load. My mother worked in a dry cleaner while she was pregnant with me AND smoked while pregnant. Those two things alone should tell you how many toxins I was exposed to in utero. Combine that with admittedly having a totally unhealthy diet for however long, drinking like a fish for the past few years of my life (starting with my stint in Dallas which was miserable and thus I had nothing better to do), among other unhealthy lifestyle habits, yeah, I was destined for either this or a very early death, whichever came first.

I guess we’ll just roll with the punches for now, as unpleasant as it might be for the time being. Laina swears if I can power through detox I’ll come out feeling better than ever at the other end. Right now it’s hard to see. I am not a person of any kind of faith whatsoever, but maybe it’s time I take something on faith, because I know that’s what I’m having to do right now. I do, however, have some evidence in that Laina has showed me a couple of her driver’s license pictures – one at age 23 and one at age 30. She actually reverse-aged during that time. She swears the same thing can happen with me.

Time will tell, of course, but for now, I guess I have to keep on keeping on.

9/3/2019 – The Day I Found Out…

…that I have Celiac disease.

Yep, it’s official. Not only am I highly reactive to gluten, but it’s even worse than that. I have full-blown Celiac disease…

The last three markers in the panel are the autoantibodies. Yep, that’s permanent. Looks like my adoption of a gluten-free diet is permanent. I knew I felt better doing it, I had no idea why it was so instantaneous until then.

Also complicating things? I have all sorts of autoantibodies – the strongest of which are heart, joints and thyroid (having a family history of Graves’ disease I wasn’t surprised by the latter).

Ugh. What a pain. The good news is that we caught it early and can contain the fire. Of course, I have the best support system ever in doing so, and here we go with a much better and healthier, happier me.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Wish me luck.

Some Brief Reflections on Going Gluten-Free For a Weekend

As the sun set on the biggest day in motorsports, with a stomach full of all gluten-free food and plenty of Ace and Angry Orchard hard cider, I smoked the day’s last cigar and wound down for the day, completely satisfied that I had accomplished my major project for the weekend: going gluten-free for a couple of days.

Of course, it’s not because I had to. I don’t know yet whether or not I am gluten reactive, though I still think there’s a high probability that I am for reasons mentioned prior. Rather, I did it because it was because I wanted to. I wanted to experience the struggle first-hand, as sort of a sympathy/empathy thing for those who have to fight this battle every day. I wanted to learn about what all has gluten and what doesn’t, and just how careful gluten reactive people have to be day to day. I wanted everyone at my viewing party to feel fully accommodated so that nothing was off-limits. And…there might have also been some other ulterior motives for this personal project. 😉

At any rate, I was shocked by two things – not only how much stuff actually is gluten free, but how much stuff is NOT that one would think is. In looking at getting hamburger patties, my jaw hit the floor when I saw that the lesser priced ones actually had soy flour in them! Like what the actual fuck? Why does that shit even need to be in a hamburger patty? Needless to say I quickly rejected those and paid the premium for the “real thing” – the real thing probably tastes better anyway.

So after figuring out what all I could and could not have, it was a huge learning experience to say the least, not only about the logistics, but some about how I personally felt this weekend. For reasons I cannot explain, I did feel like I had more energy this weekend than I had in a long time. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I did eat gluten free this weekend, maybe it was some other factor. I don’t know and I’m not going to make a call one way or another.

Lastly, I also figured out just how flavorful gluten free food can be. I actually found out that I prefer the taste of a gluten free hamburger bun over a plain white bun, especially after toasting it (though I should say I absolutely despise the taste of plain white bread). Gluten free barbecue sauce? I couldn’t tell the difference. Of course, base spices, etc. are also great and dress up just about any food, and everything in the end came out just fine.

I guess at the end of the day, I proved to myself that if I do wind up having to be gluten-free, it is something I can do. There are as many different varietals of hard cider out there as there are beer, of course I already love wine and rum. I could still have sushi, minus wasabi and imitation “crab”and with gluten-free soy sauce (yes, there is such a thing!). Who knows? Maybe even sorghum beer is better than it used to be, and I forget what it’s called by a prominent bagpipe maker who is also a homebrewer has to be gluten-free and brews his own beer with normal barley malt and adds an enzyme that removes the gluten. Maybe I could try my hand at homebrewing and still have my beer and drink it too?

Of course, I can’t go completely gluten free yet. I need to wait until the test because I’ll need to continue consuming gluten at least intermittently to keep the antibodies up to show in the test (assuming I do have such antibodies). Alas, nothing says I can’t experiment with doing so on a part-time basis in the immediate future, and I plan to do just that.

I guess whatever happens, does. So be it.

 

The “G” Word…

…and I don’t mean “gay” either. I mean another one, and one that might be the mystery as to why I am totally unresponsive to antidepressant medication despite fitting the description of clinical depression. A word that is, in the eyes of many alternative/naturopathic medicine practitioners as well as some MDs, “the root of much evil.” A word that almost took away the budding opportunity in front of me.

Gluten.

Given my medical history, a more than casual correlation between neurodivergence and gluten reactivity, and certain parallels I’ve drawn in a story similar to mine, here I am faced with a painful reality. I now realize there is a very real possibility that I am gluten reactive. Of course it’s not a certainty and won’t be unless I have a full diagnostic performed, but given my family history of autoimmune disease (my biological father having been diagnosed as Grave’s but possibly was something else, and my mother having some unknown but definite autoimmune disease) and what presents as clinical depression in myself, there is a consistency there that is impossible to overlook.

Obviously this is a real shakeup of my life story and one I had never considered before as I have absolutely no GI-related symptoms with consuming gluten (though maybe my chronic piles are aggravated by it?) and I obviously do consume a fair amount.

Which brings me to why I am just down in the dumps about it all and I’ve been crying sporadically throughout the day. You know I LOOOOOOVE beer and whisk(e)y. Beer is obvious as gluten is found in abundance in barley, wheat and oats (the first of which is a common ingredient in all beer and the latter two in many styles of beer), and though distilled, whisk(e)y is debatable and there is no consensus as to whether or not it contains gluten. I also love artisan pizza, especially from a local place here in Abilene.

As such, facing the possibility of being gluten reactive depresses the shit out of me. If it turns out I am gluten reactive, all of the above has to go away, lest I face a future where I have no quality of life and suicide/euthanasia would definitely be preferable. As depressing as the thought of having to go gluten free is, the alternative is even scarier and more depressing – loss of motor function, coordination, life bound to a wheelchair. I definitely don’t want to go there.

Given this information, I’ve decided I have no choice. I have to be screened for gluten reactivity. I have to know so I don’t inadvertently fuck myself up 10-20 years from now.

So why now, of all times? Well I’m now at a point where I am receptive to making changes if I have to. Up until now my thinking on these matters (including not only gluten but getting trashed every night, diabetes, etc.) was the same – I’m unwilling to change and give up enjoyment (read: escape from pain) in exchange for better health. My attitude was “if it kills me then so be it.” You know, the same excuse heavy cigarette smokers use to justify refusing to attempt to quit (I know I sound like a hypocrite using that analogy but cigars are indeed different in how the tobacco is cured and the product is made and consumed).

So am I or aren’t I gluten reactive? For now that remains an unknown and will until I can put the immediate fires that are in front of me out because god(dess) knows that will start a whole other set of fires. I’m already finding out what a major pain in the ass being gluten free is as I am having to prepare a gluten free feast for my Indianapolis 500 viewing party Sunday to accommodate two gluten reactive guests. It won’t kill me not to have gluten after all so I’m totally accommodating.

Alas, I guess I’ll cross that bridge if it is in my path. I just don’t know how I’ll deal. There will be a years-long grieving process if I have to cut gluten, but I know it won’t be the end of the world. Plus I have the best support system I could ask for if it does transpire that I have to.

In the meantime, I’ll just do some pre-grieving so maybe I’ll have less of that to do later, so excuse me while I go cry some more.

No, You Can’t Do That (Funny/Stupid Search Term)…

You know, I’ve gotten some pretty hilarious search terms hitting on my blog over the past nearly 3 years. Some are just funny and some, like this one, are just plain disturbing and so stupid that they deserve an “idiot” award.

Well, there are two idiot searches here (and if you’re this stupid you shouldn’t be getting a tattoo to begin with) but one of these takes the fucking cake, and I don’t even need to point out which one:

dafuq

Well, I’d not at all recommend putting menthol on an open tattoo (hello infection!), but I can’t see how it would hurt a healed tattoo. That said, I’m pretty sure the directions on the bottle of Hush Gel clearly state “do not apply to the genital area.”

Whoever the fuck you are, I seriously implore you re-think your life choices. 1) read the directions of any pharmaceutical or cosmetic product before use to have all your stupid questions answered, and 2) why the fuck would you get a tattoo down there? If you’re thinking of using it for lube, you do know there are products made for that specific purpose right (K-Y Jelly)?

Man, this world is going to hell in a handbasket. And people wonder why I refuse to procreate. I’m…just speechless…